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Same-sex couple refused service at Bakersfield bakery

Tastries bakery in Bakersfield, Calif., is seen Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. A same-sex couple says the owner refused to take their business for a wedding cake. The owner defended her decision to refer the business elsewhere on the grounds of her religious beliefs. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

A same-sex couple claims the owner of a bakery turned down their business because of their sexual orientation.

In a post over the weekend on Facebook, Eileen Del Rio said, "we go to a bakery a week ago to sign up for tasting and choose our wedding cake. The owner met with us to set up the process. Well this rude a-- person says I will make your order but I don't condone same-sex marriages and will have no part in this process."

Del Rio went on to explain the owner referred the couple to a competitor bakery to fill the order.

Jan Hefner is the executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Center of Bakersfield. She estimated there are at least 25,000 people in Kern County who identify as LGBTQ. She said she is encouraged to see same-sex couples voice such incidents publicly.

"Too many LGBTQ people have learned to turn the other cheek just trying to get what they want," Hefner said. "They figure that life's to short just to waste my time trying to fight someone who is going to be bigoted and ignorant about my entire community when they don't know who I am."

No legal precedent has yet been set on the federal level that dictates whether a business can refuse service based on religious beliefs. In 2014, a Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled in favor of a gay couple who claimed they were unlawfully discriminated against by a bakery who refused to make their wedding cake. The baker from Masterpiece Cakeshop appealed the ruling, which will soon be heard by the Supreme Court.

The Bakersfield couple, which hasn't yet commented publicly on the post, has not yet indicated whether or not they'll be taking any legal action on the bakery. If they do, Hefner said the LGBT community of Kern County will back them.

"I'm not in a position to advise them whether they should seek legal recourse," Hefner said. "... but if they should choose to, we can certainly connect them with some legal organizations that would be willing to go to bat for them."

The owner of the bakery has agreed to speak with Eyewitness News, that interview can be seen here.

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